Being human means we all find ourselves lost at times. We all have an infinite capacity to lose our way. Even after receiving Jesus’ gift of salvation, we may find ourselves doing the wrong things or doing the right things but for the wrong reasons. Yes, even as upstanding Christians, we can drift into darkness and lose sight of our true position as children of God.
The parable of the prodigal offers two examples of how we lose our way and how the father goes looking for both sons. The younger brother clearly insults his father, takes his inheritance for granted, and lives for his own pleasure. The older brother remains outwardly faithful, does nothing to bring shame on his family, and sacrifices himself to serve in every way.
Although the older brother appears to be doing the “right things,” he is deeply angry and jealous—refusing to celebrate with his father. In his anger, he hardens his heart.
“Today, if you hear [God’s] voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 3.7-8). Instead, “live as children of the light… and find out what pleases the Lord” (Ephesians 5.8b-10).
When your heart drifts, do you tend to resemble the elder brother in his lost-ness or the younger brother in his lost-ness?
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